On the one hand you have enormous internal pressure to promote the latest and greatest widgets, silver bullets and game changers. The company has invested a year or more in development, and has wisely chosen your event for the big debut to its most important customers. Now they want coverage and plenty of it.
On the other hand, are those very important customers who make your event a marketing weapon. Their business and personal interests go well beyond your latest shiny objects. In fact, post event survey after post event survey demonstrates that their priorities are always on two things: gathering the information necessary to get the most out of their current product investment. And acquiring the skills that will enable them to get a raise, a promotion or even a better job.
Seen in this light, it should be apparent that the way that you balance these two seemingly competing agendas has everything to do with this year’s conference ratings, the event ROI and the long term success (and so value) of the event.
So what is the secret?
In our experience, it all starts with designing each session with a particular audience segment in mind.
The number one content related complaint is that session titles and descriptions don’t match the content that the presenter delivers. If you want to improve your session scores, keep the presenters on topic.
Of course there are lots of reasons this doesn’t always happen, especially when a speaker does not work directly for your company. The problem is that the reasons and excuses don’t mean much to the people who feel that they have just wasted their time on (your) irrelevant content.
By specifying a segment of the audience, then developing the content to meet their needs and interests, content developers are effectively “forced” into a degree of specificity that will help attendees to identify appropriate sessions.
The second content related complaint is presentations that have everything to do with the product manager’s agenda, and nothing to do with the attendee’s interests. If it’s not done with great skill and a very light touch, people really resent getting sold to – especially if they have to pay for the privilege.
Here too, designing the content to meet the interests of a specific audience segment is a best practice.
By challenging the presenter to think in terms of the interests of one segment of the audience, you help them move from the generic to the specific. And as a result, the rarely successful one-size-fits-all (complete with generic or even segment inappropriate examples, demos and case studies) becomes one specific size, targeted to a specific audience – complete with relevant examples, demos and case studies.
Is it more work? YES, there is no free lunch to get it right. But, importantly, it is also more effective… and so more likely to lead to the new marketing and sales opportunities the event is intended to foster.
How do you go about balancing the competing needs of your company and audience? What content development techniques have you found to be effective?
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